Sarah awoke finally from her long and forced sleep and found herself in unfamiliar surroundings. Her vision was blurred and her surroundings slightly disjointed. She felt very groggy. She reached for her head as she felt it throbbing. Whoever the hell knocked her on the head would pay.
She looked around to see where she was, but saw only grey and blackness. There was no detail, no indication that the drab colours were part of a wall. It seemed as though she was frozen in a bottomless pit, unmoving and fixed into place. She saw that she was lying in an angle she couldn’t figure out, she felt as though she was lying down on a surface that she couldn’t see or feel with her hands. She tried her best to roll over and check behind her or above her, but realised that she couldn’t move.
What the fuck is going on, here. Where am I. I can’t move!
She started to panic, trying her hardest to move with no avail. She felt liked she was drugged and tied up with no chance of escape.
Where’s the guy I was talking to, where is he?
Suddenly, a great peace and tranquillity came over like a blanket, covering her completely. She started to relax again, ignoring her present worries. She snuggled up her body into a ball the same as a child does and closed her eyes. She hardly reacted at all as she felt a warm comforting hand brush her hair. She became aware of an odour under nose. She breathed it in and realised that it was the strong smell of leather.
She tried to turn around and face whoever was beside her and was surprised to see that she could move freely. She opened her eyes and saw only intense blackness. She reached out her hands and felt the soft touch of a blanket covering her. She could sense that her arms and legs didn’t feel like hers, they felt smaller, like a child’s extremities.
She pulled back the blanket covering her and saw that she was lying on a bed and for some reason, she was a child again and was wearing her old night gown with pink flowers on the front. She recognised her bed and the blanket covering it as hers. The image of large beautiful grey horses jumping across a stream was printed on it. She looked round the room she was in and instantly recognised it as hers when she was a child. The small pine cupboard to the right of her bed had her hair brush lying on it. The wallpaper was of horses leaping into the air, she looked through the small window to her left and saw the city as it was before, teeming with people and activity, the sky a perfect blackness, but lit up by the tiny flickers of countless stars.
She knew she was home again, in her own room. While she couldn’t understand why she was a child again and why she was here, she didn’t particularly care to think about it much. She wanted to enjoy this, feel its warm and familiar embrace around and hope she could stay here, at least for a while if not indefinitely.
She could still smell the strong smell of book leather in the room and looked round, desperate to finally see her father after so long. But, she could see nothing of other people, just her room and the familiar objects.
Father, where are you, father?
She sat up on the bed and kneeled down on the soft mattress. She felt a fuzzy sensation brush up against her left leg and looked down and saw ’Migsy,” the doll she had all through her childhood and was her best friend then. It was made completely of cotton with small plastic buttons on the front. Its eyes were large and black, yet still appealing and friendly looking. The smile it had was wide and coloured red. It had no hands or feet, only stumps.
She immediately took it up in her arms and held it tight to her chest. She placed her mouth right next to its imaginary ear and said with a whisper.
“Do you know where father is, Migsy?”
She turned her head slowly to face the other side of the room as she heard the sound of a rocking chair creaking. She looked up and saw the silhouette of a rocking chair slowly rock backwards and forwards with someone sat in it, not moving at all. She held Migsy close to her like a shield and timidly began to crawl off the bed onto the floor and walk toward the strange sight.
She reached the silhouette and looked up at it with the worried eyes of a child. The rocking chair stopped in rocking motion and sat silently, the figure seated in it didn’t move or react at all.
“Father?” She said aloud, resting her hand on the arm of the figure.
The figure quickly took a tight hold of her hand and spun its head around to look at her. Its face was like that of a disfigured long dead corpse, its skin was heavily wrinkled, its eyes bulging out. Its mouth was open and a great torrent of maggots emptied out from its throat and onto Sarah’s hand.
Sarah screamed a child’s scream as she beheld the horrible sight.
Sarah opened her eyes again and immediately sat up from her lying position, still screaming and franticly wiping her hand of the maggots. After a few moments, she saw that there was nothing there, plus, she was back in her adult body.
What the hell happened?
She looked round her present location and saw that she was in an unfamiliar apartment filled with shelves and books and recording equipment. A large red blanket covered her completely and a white pillow was behind her. She saw that she was lying on the floor. Her head still felt sore, she touched it lightly with her finger.
Her head spun suddenly as she heard the sound of clinking glass in the corner. She turned to see a medium sized young man in a long dirty white coat standing beside a drinks cabinet pouring scotch into a glass. Earphones covered his ears and was obviously oblivious to her screaming.
The man sensed that he was being watched and quickly turned his head and looked at her. He smiled and quickly put the glasses back down on the cabinet and hurried over to her and sat down beside her.
Sarah quickly flinched and backed away a little. She was unsure of who this was and what he was doing, but she knew him somehow.
“Are you okay?” He said, his voice thick with worry. “Are you hurt, do you need anything?” He looked at her response to him being here and shuffled away from her a few paces. “I’m William, William Blake, remember? You came to me for help in the Town Hall. We got knocked unconscious and I took you out of there, they were doing weird tests on you.”
Sarah’s head hurt as she tried to process all of this information being fired at her. The throbbing in her head slowed her remembering, but it finally came to her.
“Yeah, I remember, you.” She said in a quiet voice. You where there, I wanted to talk to you. And yes, you can get me something. Get me a scotch.”
William obeyed and hurried over to the drinks cabinet. He decided to give her a double whisky, thinking that she would probably need it. He brought it over to her and she downed it in one and put the glass on the floor.
William smiled as he saw that she was fine and nothing was wrong with her. He decided against shuffling back towards, though he really wanted to.
Sarah again touched her head as it throbbed. She grunted in pain.
“Hold on,” William said. “I’ll get you some bandages for that.”
He stood up and walked over to a small first-aid box on the wall and took out a roll of bandages and a bottle of anti-antiseptic. He walked back to Sarah and started to attend to the wound. “Don’t move while I sort this out.” He said. Sarah obeyed and allowed him to treat the wound.
“What the hell hit me?” She asked.
“I’m guessing some piece of wood struck you on the head, I’m finding a few tiny shards of wood in the wound, here. You’ll be okay, though.
This felt strange to Sarah, someone else helping her with something. She had spent years alone taking care of any problem that came her way, whether it be the car, the apartment or the gathering of food and supplies. Plus, the awkwardness of attending to any scrapes or bruises she accumulated, and treating to them herself with no help from anyone. It was refreshing and warm to have someone else do something for her.
A flash of memory appeared in her mind, the memory of the person that had struck William and herself on the head, but his face was hazy.
“Who the hell hit me, and why?” She asked him, ready to take revenge on whoever it was.
William sighed before answering, his eyebrows narrowed as hate and anger flooded him. “I’m guessing it was the head scientists in charge of the experiment at the Town Hall, Oswald Richardson.”
Sarah laughed a little. “Oswald, what kind of stupid name is that. How could someone with a stupid name like that take me down. He sounds like a damn nerd, to me.”
William smiled a little and shivered. It was funny to hear her say that, but it was strange to hear someone else speak about Oswald like that instead of him. He suddenly felt as if a great weight lifted itself from his shoulders.
“Don’t underestimate him,” He said to her. “Oswald sounds like the kind of name you’d find with someone whose got more teeth than guts, but this guy will definitely kill you if you go against him. Id didn’t believed he could do that at first, I knew what he was capable of, but I didn’t think He go that far.”
Sarah looked at him with a puzzled expression. “But he hasn’t actually killed anyone yet, has he?”
“No, but I wouldn’t want to be around when he thinks about it. Anyway, I’m guessing you were around when he threatened me in the main corridor, so you must have heard him. Couldn’t you tell from his voice that he meant what he said?”
Sarah didn’t answer. She ran the image of Oswald through her mind. It was frightening even thinking about someone in the world like this. She had grown used to seeing those in the streets running like scared rabbits as the night approached and being scared of the slightest thing. She had often felt like the strongest person left in the world amongst petrified survivors. It made her question herself and her own courage to think of Oswald and how powerful he looked. She would have to make herself a hell of a lot stronger, it seemed to survive further into the future.
William watched her in her pondering and decided to continue with what happened. “He must have still been around and heard you talking about what you were seeing in your apartment. He must have wanted you as part of the experiment, I found you in the . . .”
He stopped as he was about to tell her where he found her and what they were doing to her. He didn’t want to frighten, obviously she was scared enough about the things she was seeing anyway. He could tell from talking to her that she was a tough-minded person, but he didn’t know if she was prepared to hear what he was going to tell her.
Sarah looked at him questioningly. “What, you found me in the what?”
William knew he had to tell, no matter how much it would scare her. He saw that he was finished with the bandaging and relaxed his arms on his legs and sighed. He looked her straight in the eye and told her. “I found you in a room next to the Main Hall sitting in a chair, you were out cold. They were conducting tests on you and I found wires and tubes running out of your goddamn face and into machines. That’s how you’ve got the scars on your face, I didn’t have the time to extract them carefully. Don’t ask me what they were doing to you in there, because I’ve no idea.”
Sarah looked at him with a slightly shocked unwavering expression. She timidly reached for the scars on her face with the ends of her fingers. She didn’t appear to shocked to William, he guessed she was a hell of a lot stronger than she looked. But, after a few minutes of the same fixed expression, he knew something had reached her.
“Are you okay, I’m sorry, but I had to tell you, you wanted me to.”
Sarah’s body shuddered as she regained control of it. She exhaled a brief breath of air, her eyes were half open. “No, I’m fine,” she said in a nervous voice. “I guessed that was what they’d do to me if they got me. To be honest, I was partly hoping that they’d test me. I want to know what the hell is happening to me. I came to you first because I hoped you’d help me the most.”
William was confused when he didn’t feel proud of himself that she came to him out of all the others. He felt a little guilty at himself as it was his fault that she got struck on the head and tested on like an animal. He knew that their was no way he could have protected her, but he still felt sure he should have done something.
“Are you hungry, at all?” He asked her, changing the subject. “I’ve got plenty to eat.” He wanted to ask her about what he she was trying to tell him, but he felt it was a little to soon for that. He wanted to get her back on her feet as soon as possible.
Sarah smiled at him. “Thanks, yeah, I am a little hungry. But, I think I think I’ll have a bath first. I could seriously use one.”
William didn’t feel surprised to hear her wanting a bath without being asked. He guessed she was that kind of person, the type who’d take what she wanted when she could. He was surprised to find himself enjoying the way she expected everything on a plate. He wondered if he was a little perverted.
“Yeah, sure,” he said readily. “Go take a bath, I’ll make something. The bathroom’s in the corner over there.” He pointed to it with his head.
“Thanks,” she said to him. She felt the bandage on her wound and smiled. “Thanks for this, too.” She walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind her, she started the water running and began to undress.
William briefly wondered why she hadn’t bothered to lock it. Then he realised that after spending years alone, she had no need to lock it. He took it as a compliment that she didn’t lock it because he was there, hopefully, she trusted him enough. He smiled a little and walked into the kitchen to prepare her meal.